Photo Credit: Dinuka Liyanawatte / Reuters
The senior bishop in the Anglican Church of Ceylon, the Bishop of Colombo, Dhiloraj Canagasabey, has said that the country’s Independence Day has become “a mere ritualised event” rather than “a day of national rejoicing and thanksgiving”. Bishop Dhiloraj said that a gap has opened between the nation’s rulers and those who are ruled.
Sri Lanka – then known as Ceylon – obtained independence from the British on 4 February 1948. The Indian Ocean island nation changed its name to Sri Lanka in 1972, but the Anglican Church in the country continues to use the name Ceylon.
“As religious leaders, our sacred duty is to speak the truth, honestly and forthrightly, but impartially and with loving kindness, to our leaders and to our people, so that we may work together to build a peaceful, just and prosperous nation for our children and future generations”, he said. “The unfortunate but sober truth that we must face is that very few in this country look to the future with a sense of hope or optimism.
“It is not only the shameful and ugly events of October and November that have brought about this darkness. The long accumulation of misdeeds, the greed, power hunger, corruption, injustices – principally on the part of our politicians, but also by us, who willingly or through indifference have put our personal welfare and comforts before the common good, profits and benefits before the interests of the nation and the country as a whole.”
He was referring to political moves by President Maithripala Sirisena, who suspended Parliament and replaced Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with his preferred Prime Minister until the Supreme Court reversed the decision.
“We are not called however to be downcast as ‘women and men without hope’”, he said. “It is for all of us who love this country to come together, to rise up to the many challenges that confront us, to raise our voices against evil and falsehood, to insist that our politicians adhere to moral and ethical standards and to stand up for the poor, the downtrodden and the marginalised.
“It is only through the common efforts of us all that we can truly make this country a ‘Dharma Dveepaya’, a land of justice and peace for all its citizens.
“To this end, may the teachings of our faiths and the noble examples of those whose lives have enlightened us for the good be our guide and our inspiration this Independence Day.”